We are here to encourage the development of gifted young singers and to stimulate the growth of New York City's invaluable chamber opera companies. But we will not neglect the Metropolitan Opera either. Get ready for bouquets and brickbats.

Sunday, October 23, 2016


A toast to The Count of Luxembourg and Other Tales: a Viennese Pastiche

It is amazing what good entertainment can do for one's spirits. The weather outside was damp and uncomfortable last night but when we exited Shetler Studios after this delightful performance, our spirits were as high as the top of the Empire State Building.

New Camerata Opera is a brand new ensemble company comprising eight marvelously talented young artists.  We enjoyed ourselves so greatly that we urge you to book your tickets for next Thursday or Saturday, which will end this successful run.  The performing space is small and there are only a few tickets left. You are guaranteed a bubbly evening listening to aural champagne and watching some hilarious hijinx that have endured a century.

Soprano Alexandra Lang, herself a superb singing actress, conceived and directed this pastiche, putting together music from operettas by Franz Lehar and Johann Strauss. The major storyline is Franz Lehar's The Count of Luxembourg with interpolated songs from Die Lustige Witwe, Die Fledermaus, and Das Land des Lächelns. The most familiar of these songs--"Trinke, Liebchen, trinke schnell", "Brüderlein", "Dein ist mein ganzes Herz", "Chacun à son gout", and "Lippen schweigen"--seemed right at home within the storyline.

The storyline is one of romantic matches and mismatches.  Of course, all turns out well in the end, with the help of a deus ex machina or two.  Polish Prince Basil Basilowitsch (Scott Lindroth) is in love with singing star Angèle Didier (Alexandra Lang) whom he cannot marry because she is a commoner.

Marital registrar Pélégrin (Victor Khodadad) cooks up a plan for Angèle to marry a wastrel --the eponymous Count of Luxembourg (Stan Lacy)--who accepts a huge fee to participate in this fake marriage to a woman he never gets to see, with the proviso that they never meet and get divorced after 6 months. Then she will be a Countess and Prince Basil can marry her.

In a subplot, the starving young painter Armand Brissard (Erik Bagger) cannot afford to marry his sweetheart Juliette Vermont (Barbara Porto) but the sale of one of his paintings brings in a tidy sum.  He must keep the affair quiet because of the secret marriage and Juliet gets rather upset when she learns that he has the necessary funds and has not yet proposed.

All the performances were splendid but two stood out-Julia Tang did a fine turn as the dissipated Prince Orlofsky who opened the evening's entertainment.  Eva Parr entered toward the end as one of the "deus ex machina"--Prince Basil's aunt, the Countess Stasa Kokozow who exhibited aristocratic arrogance and charm in equal measure.

Musical values were delightful all around.  Michael C. Haigler conducted from the piano--an excellent arrangement for flute (Jason Brook), violin (Monica Martin) and cello (Keiran Campbell). Although there was at least one number in 2/4 time and a frisky polka, most of the numbers were waltzes and we could barely sit still. Choreography was by Bridget Bose.

The dialogue was spoken in English and the songs were sung in the original German, a choice of which we heartily approve. Translation was by Dr. David Wilson. German diction was faultless but there were good subtitles projected off to the side if one needed a peek..

We don't know what New Camerata Opera has in the works but whatever it is, we plan to be there. As stated in the program they plan to offer a wide range of repertoire both live and through digital media channels. There is a mention of more pastiche (we surely hope so!), innovative presentations of classical vocal music, adaptations of rare operatic works, newly commissioned works, and operas adapted for children.  That's quite an undertaking!

(c) meche kroop

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